A correspondent from Men’s Journal recently experimented with a high-altitude simulator to gage its effectiveness. For those unaware, a high-altitude simulator is a tent that engulfs your bed to help increase red blood cell production while you sleep. Why the hell would you want to do that? Well, red blood cells fuel endurance for when we run, swim, bike or do any other fast-paced exercise. Athletes like cyclist Lance Armstrong use it while training for a race because it helps simulate the altitude at which your red blood cells need to increase. Coupled with regular training, it’s like gaining all the benefits from weekly cardio…but while you sleep.
The product is intriguing, because according to the Men’s Journal correspondent, the tent works:
After three weeks, I felt as if I had a third lung. I blazed through a three-mile time trial 5 percent faster than I ever had, and I finished top-15 in my category in a hill climb. During the race I quickly caught my breath on the flat spots, then felt ready to pound away again. The tent worked — but I still had to train hard.
1) Is it worth $1,000-plus and sleeping in a bubble nightly to improve endurance?
For millionaire athletes, a thousand dollars for one of these puppies seems like a bargain, but what about for the common triathlon athlete or endurance enthusiast? Before dismissing the theory, how much do you spend yearly on food, supplements and training equipment to enhance your physique?
2) Are athletes like Armstrong cheating?
We as a society hate the fact that Barry Bonds could break a home run record he unfairly achieved, but are we being hypocritical? If these tents do work, did Armstrong have an unfair advantage? Steroids help testosterone growth, which therefore aids strength and muscle development through exercise. These tents are designed to increase red blood cell production, which therefore aids in endurance through exercise. The connection between these simulators and steroids might be on a different level, but it does raise an interesting debate.